Best Supplements, Herbs & Vitamins for Treating Depression

About Depression & Its Treatment

In today’s day and age, there is hardly anybody who is not familiar with depression. While we all have our slumps in life, what is worrying is if this feeling of sadness continues to persist. Feeling down, losing interest in daily activities, and sadness are the usual signs of depression that we need to watch out for. The cause of depression is not completely understood, but it is believed that a combination of biological, environmental, genetic, and psychosocial factors are responsible for causing the condition. Depression is a treatable condition and treatment range from support, psychotherapy and drug treatment. Antidepressants are usually prescribed for treating depression. There are many side effects of these medications and an individual might end up becoming addicted to these medications. It might a better idea to first try out some natural remedies to treat your depression.

Alternative depression treatments have become the focus of numerous research studies. Herbs, vitamins, and supplements are being researched to determine if they can provide some benefit to people suffering from depression. While some alternative treatments have shown immense promise, many still need to pass tests of clinical trials.

If you suffer from depression, then you should be aware that depression is very much a treatable mental illness. The most common method for treating depression is usually through medications, primarily antidepressants. Counseling or therapy is also recommended to go hand-in-hand with medications. While antidepressants are used to solve any physical problems like a chemical imbalance, counseling helps you address and face up to issues that might be contributing to your depression. While these are effective, antidepressants are known to have some serious side effects and a person often ends up becoming addicted to these medications.

If you want to focus on other treatment options for your depression, then alternative options such as natural remedies also exist that have proven to be quite effective in treating depression. With a growing realization about the various side effects of medications, many people are looking towards herbs, vitamins, and other natural remedies to find relief from their depression symptoms. Natural remedies for depression have been around for centuries and today, these very herbs are being sold as mood boosters for people suffering from depression or are experiencing chronic feelings of helplessness and sadness. We look at some of these supplements, herbs and vitamins that can help lift your mood and also provide relief from symptoms.

However, it is important to note that these remedies are only for mild to moderate levels of depression. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are experiencing severe levels of depression, then it is recommended that you seek the help of a mental health doctor immediately.

Best Supplements for Treating Depression

Best Supplements for Treating Depression

S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)

S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is another naturally occurring substance that is known to function as an antidepressant. Due to its antidepressant properties, SAMe has been used for treating depression by doctors even. You will be surprised to know that SAMe is actually produced naturally by the body, but the compound can also be made artificially in a laboratory. It has been approved as a dietary supplement and in many countries, SAMe is actually a prescription drug for treating several conditions apart from depression as well. SAMe helps produce several important neurotransmitters in the brain. These include:

  • Serotonin
  • Melatonin
  • Dopamine

These important chemical and neurotransmitters help in carrying signals from the brain to the rest of the body. If you suffer from depression, then you might not be having adequate levels of serotonin in your body. SAMe is often prescribed to boost the production of serotonin in the brain. A study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2010 found that people taking 800 milligrams of SAMe twice a day had fewer symptoms of depression.

There is no prescribed dosage for SAMe. The dosage depends on the form in which you take the SAMe supplement. Your doctor is likely to suggest that you gradually increase your dosage of SAMe so as to experience fewer side effects.

The SAMe supplement is available over-the-counter, but it is important that you discuss it with your doctor before you start taking the same. This will make you aware of any potential side effects and your doctor will advise you on which medications SAMe can interfere with. It is known that people who are on blood thinners may develop a higher risk of bleeding if they are taking SAMe as well. The actual compound of SAMe is also known to have the following side effects:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You can also benefit from modifying your diet to get relief from depression symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids are found abundantly in many foods that we consume on a daily basis. With omega-3 fatty acids is a healthy form of fat that is found in fatty fish such as trout, salmon, and sardines. It is also available in a supplement form and you can also find them being called fish oil capsules. Studies have shown that people can actually benefit from consuming omega-3 fatty acids as the risk of depression increases in individuals who have low levels of two main brain chemicals that are found in these fish oil supplements.

Eating these fatty fish can three times a week effectively increases the levels of your omega-3 fatty acids, without taking any supplements. Opt for fish that are known to have lower levels of mercury, such as salmon, freshwater trout, sardines, or light canned tuna.


A commonly used spice in Asian countries, saffron is produced from the dried portion of the Crocus satvius flower. This spice has been used for many years for a variety of benefits, including:

  • Boost digestion
  • Improve mood
  • Increase relaxation
  • Ease menstruation process, etc.

It has only now become a potential alternative treatment for depression due to its properties of improving one’s mood.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine in 2013 demonstrated that saffron supplements are very helpful in improving mood and reducing the symptoms of major depressive disorder.

Saffron supplements are available in capsule form and it is effective if taken up to 30 milligrams daily. Taking too much saffron can cause side effects such as dizziness, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Saffron supplements, though, are not easy to find and they are usually quite expensive, owing to the fact that saffron itself is a very expensive spice.

Best Herbs for Treating Depression

St. John’s Wort

Millions of people view St. John’s wort as an alternative treatment for depression. St. John’s wort has been used for many medicinal purposes for thousands of years and several studies have also been conducted to prove the effectiveness of St. John’s wort. Most of these studies have successfully shown that the herb has many potential benefits in treating several conditions. This herb has been used for treating not just depression, but many other mental health disorders as well. It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, along with antibacterial and antiviral properties as well.

St. John’s wort is popular for depression treatment because it works as a natural antidepressant. Though the herb has not been approved by any medical body such as the US FDA, many people still swear by its effectiveness in lifting up their moods while suffering from depression.

A study conducted in 2009 and published in Evidence-based Mental Health journal, proved that the herb has many benefits. The study successfully showed that St. John’s wort is much more effective than giving a placebo to a depression patient. There are also lesser side effects from this herb as compared to traditional antidepressants that are prescribed.

On the other hand, though, a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed that St. John’s wort failed to show any improvements in mild depression. The same study also showed that citalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, is no less effective than a placebo.

St. John’s wort is available as a supplement in the form of tablets, capsules, or even tea. Tinctures and liquid extracts are also available. You can always decide to try St. John’s wort for treating your depression as there are very fewer side effects from the herb. The standard dose for treating mild to moderate depression should not exceed 300 milligrams taken two to three times a day. If you experience some relief in your symptoms, then you should discuss with your doctor about what dosage of the herb you should continue to take.

A point to remember is that St. John’s wort tends to interact negatively with many medications. So if you are already taking antidepressants, birth control, blood thinners, or even a cough suppressant, then you need to discuss with your doctor before you begin taking St. John’s wort as an alternative treatment for your depression.

Best Vitamin For Treating Depression

Vitamins are required for maintaining good health. Vitamin B is, in fact, responsible for the maintenance of your brain’s health. In particular, vitamin B-6 and B-12 play a role in producing and controlling the chemicals that impact our mood and other brain-related functions. Low levels of vitamin B have actually been linked to depression. A deficiency of vitamin B can be easily diagnosed through a blood test. If diagnosed with low levels, then you can increase your consumption of vitamin B through some diet modifications itself. Vitamin B-rich foods include:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Dairy

Vitamin B supplements may also be suggested if your levels are a bit too low. In cases of severe vitamin B deficiency, an injection of B-12 might also be recommended. You can also try having multi-vitamin supplements as most of these daily multivitamin supplements contain sufficient levels of important B vitamins. It is also possible to buy supplements that only contain vitamin B.

The recommended dosage for depression is between one to 25 micrograms daily. For people over the age of 14 years, it is recommended to consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B daily. Higher doses of vitamin B are not known to have any side effects and are in fact known to be effective and safe. However, do make it a point to discuss with your doctor before using vitamin B supplements.

You will experience a relief from depression symptoms by boosting your vitamin B levels.


While these supplements, herbs and vitamins have shown immense promise in the treatment of depression, you must rely on your doctor’s advice before you start consuming any of them. If you are experiencing severe depression, then these alternate modes of treatment are unlikely to be a reliable option for you. Either way, though, you should not rely solely on supplements and herbs to come out of your depression. Depression can prove to be a serious condition, and it is necessary that you work with your doctor to find the best treatment plan for yourself.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 5, 2018

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